How to Build a Doghouse out of Pallets

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Let’s face it – we all love our pets. Having a dog is one of the most enjoyable experiences shared by people worldwide. Part of having a dog is making sure that dog has all he or she needs to live a happy life.

For many of us, dogs that spend a lot of time in a fenced-in yard will need a shelter they can call their own. In other words, they need a doghouse.

​But, you don’t need to build an expensive doghouse. Pallet wood, usually free and easy to find, makes a great material to build your dog’s house. We will walk you through how to build a doghouse out of pallets. When done, you will have an inexpensive but completely functional and durable house for your dog. ​​

How to Build a Doghouse with Pallet Wood for Cheap

Doghouse Supplies and Materials

The first things you will need when building a pallet doghouse are, of course, pallets. Visit pet supply stores, food stores, big box stores, and home improvement stores and let them know you’re looking for some pallets. By asking around, you should be able to find some pallets either very inexpensive or free.

Once you have these, the rest of your supplies are common:

  • Tools to deconstruct your pallets, including prybars and hammers, and if you have one, a pallet breaker.
  • Jigsaw, Circular Saw, or Table Saw
  • Nails and nail gun, or hammer, or a drill and wood screws
  • Sockets and your socket organizer
  • Wood glue
  • Sanding block or orbital sander
  • Waterproof MDF or chipboard.
  • Hardware hooks (for fastening the pet’s rope)

Once you have obtained your pallets and broken them down, it is fairly straightforward to build a doghouse out of the wood. This reclaimed wood is usually available at no cost.

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The range of potential projects you can build from pallets is fascinating. There are entire websites dedicated to using shipping pallets to build anything from a doghouse to beds to wall paneling.

Dog enjoying blown air bubbles

Doghouse Instructions

There are some great instructional videos out there on how to build a pallet doghouse. Check out this one by Josep Farre. These videos are a great way to see the process as well as read about it.

How to Build a Doghouse from Pallets

Here is our step by step guide to building a pallet doghouse.

​Before You Get Started

​Lets review how this doghouse is going to be set up. One pallet will make up the base of your doghouse. The other pallet will be used to make the frame and the sides. 

As such, you’ll need several pallets. You can do this project with just three, but having more makes it easier on several fronts. For starters, you’ll have replacement wood if any of it breaks, or if you make a mistake.

Also, having more than three pallets means that you’ll be able to have a lot more options for how intricate and detailed you make your dog’s house.

Pallet wood makes a great starting point for building a cheap doghouse

Step 1: Prepare Your Pallet Wood

​Before you can starting building your doghouse, you need to get some of your pallet wood stripped off of the pallet and ready to go. Pulling the wood apart isn’t difficult, but you need to take care not to destroy it in the process. After pulling it off, you’ll want to spend some time preparing it for the build phase. 

1. Pull the Wood Off of the Pallet

Pallet wood comes put together in a pallet… that part is obvious, right? And, you have to pull some of the wood apart from the pallet before you can start building the doghouse.

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​You don’t need to pull all of the wood off – just one side of each pallet. This first pallet is going to be your base, or the bottom of the doghouse. ​The other pallets will be your sides and/or roof. However, you only need one side of the pallet wood – stripping the other side off will allow you to use it for other purposes.

Use a crow bar to pull the wood apart from the pallet. The pallet should just be nailed together, so it shouldn’t be hard. Be very careful, though – don’t move too quickly. Its easy to go quickly and break the wood as you pull it off.

​2. ​Trim the Wood Edges and Frays

Trim all of wood with a jigsaw or table saw to ensure each piece is the exact same length. 

Some wood pieces will have become a bit frayed or chipped from pulling it off the pallet. Don’t worry, this is normal – pallet wood is cheap wood that tends to chip easily. 

Pallet wood is rough and brittle, causing a lot of breaks, frays, and holes.

Step 2: Building and Installing the Walls

​Once you’ve prepared your wood, you can start building the side walls. Your base, or floor, is already ready to go – it is just an entire pallet. Your side walls need to be built from pallets, and perhaps cut down to be the right size. 

​Securely installing your side walls is vital to the longevity of your doghouse, so take time and care to do it properly.

1. ​Build the Side Walls

​Your base is set; now its time to build the side walls. ​Similar to the base, side walls are made out of complete pallets. However, you don’t need to use one pallet for every side.. you would have a really large doghouse if you did!

​Keep in mind, pallets come in all shapes and sizes, so we can’t tell you exact measurements for what to cut. Instead, measure according to the height you want your doghouse to be, and cut accordingly.

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​With any luck, you’ll be able to use each pallet for two side walls.

TIP: Make one side lower than the other. This will allow you to have a slanted roof, which will help keep your doghouse watertight and last longer.

2. Join and Secure the Side Walls

​This is perhaps the most important part of the build process. You’ll want to install the four posts of your dog house as securely as possible. Use large screws and a power drill to afix the posts to the doghouse base.

While it is extra work to build a slanted roof, you’ll really appreciate the effects it has.

Power drill securing wood panels

Step 3: Building & Installing the Roof & Door

​Now that you have your base and side walls, its time to work on the roof and door. Hopefully you elected for a slanted roof. Either way, installing the roof will take the same amount of work.

After installing the roof, you have a completely enclosed box.. and no way for your dog to get in and out! This is when you need to cut a door for your doghouse.

​1. Cut & Install the Roof

At this point, you should have a bunch of spare wood planks that you gathered from the wood pallets.

Use a jigsaw or circular saw at an angle to cut the top planks of your doghouse. This angle will accommodate the slope of the roof. Install the planks with screws, like you did with the side wall posts. 

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Make certain your roof wood planks are tight and flush up against each other. Any gaps will allow water and moisture to seep through. Pallet wood is notorious for not being straight. If your planks turn out to have some gaps, use a saw or sandpaper to trim them down so they seal.

Use a jigsaw to cut your pallet wood down to the proper size

2. Draw & Cut the Door

​Pick a side to install the door on. We recommend putting the door on the higher side wall, presuming you went with a sloped roof. But, it really is up to your personal preference. 

Use a jigsaw to cut the door frame. Once done, go over the edges with sandpaper to ensure that it is soft. You don’t want your dog pulling hair or skin off because of jagged edges.

​Step 4: Sand and Finish

​Technically speaking, you could walk away at this point and have a complete pallet doghouse. However, you’ve come this far – a little bit of sanding and finishing will help your dog house last for a lot longer, and look a lot better. 

​1. Sand the Surface Down

Pallet wood tends to be rough. So, some work with the sander is often necessary to ensure there are no splinters in you or your dog. Pallet wood has a rustic quality. You don’t need to sand completely smooth if you want to preserve this.

How far and long you sand is up to you. One round of sanding will do the majority of the work, but you can follow it up with a finer grade sandpaper on the second and third sanding if you desire.

​2. Paint, Stain, or Varnish

​Your doghouse is now built and complete, but it’s time to make it look great with a fresh coat of paint or varnish or polycrylic

​Which you opt for is up to your personal preferences and style. A polycrylic will preserve the rustic look that pallet wood has. Varnish will still allow the wood grain to show through, but will add some color and shine to the finish.

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Paint, on the other hand, will cover over the pallet wood. Use paint for your pallet wood if you want to eliminate the pallet look and give your doghouse a completely new look.

We discuss more detailed options for this below in our bonus section.

Dog house out of pallets

Step 5: Bonuses & Considerations

​For most, you’ve probably arrived at the style and finish of a pallet doghouse that you are looking for. However, we’ve added some considerations and bonuses, if you want to go over and above. 

​Flooring and Roofing

​You can install a floor of waterproof MDF or chipboard. This is perhaps the only piece of wood or MDF you’ll actually need to buy for this project. This will form a nice barrier against moisture in the ground and will keep your dog nice and dry inside the house.  You could also just use the wood from another pallet for the floor.

Use the same waterproof board as you used on the floor to add to the sloping roof. You can add roof supports here to ensure the roof stays secure.

​Doghouse Paint and Finishes

Pallet wood has a rough, rustic quality which is part of its charm for a lot of DIY builders. If this is your preference, you can skip the priming step when you paint. However, if you want a nice, smooth finished look, consider sanding the surfaces smooth and starting with a coat of primer.

In addition, if the holidays are coming around, you can always create a Christmas scroll saw intarsia to hang on your dog house to ​keep everything in tune with the decor indoors.

​Start With the Lightest Color

If you are using several colors on your doghouse, begin with the lightest color you have. It’s far easier to paint dark colors over light than light over dark. You don’t need to be so precise with the lighter colors if you apply them first.

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A thin coat with no primer will produce a nice, weathered effect that will satisfy anyone seeking this desired look. A second coat will minimize this effect. Up to four coats may be needed to completely cover the wood underneath.

In addition, make sure to choose a non-toxic paint, as dogs do like to lick any surface they smell! There is a line of ECOS paints specifically for pet houses which may work best.

​Sanding Your Doghouse

If you’re sanding your pallet wood, you should first use a coarse grit sandpaper (80-100 works best) to smooth down the roughness. Then, proceed to finer grits if necessary to smooth further.

Finish with 220 grit.  In terms of what sort of paint to use, acrylic will work best. Pay attention to how well your paint will stand up to weather.

​Staining Your Doghouse

If you prefer to stain your wood rather than paint, proceed as you would to stain any other kinds of wood. However, most pallet wood will get darker than anticipated when stained. As such, try brighter colors rather than darker to ensure the beauty of the wood remains visible. 

Stain adds quite a bit of stability to the wood, protecting the structure of the doghouse itself, so it is a good option.


Building a doghouse for your pet rather than buying one is a great project to do

We hope you’ve enjoyed this quick guide on ​how to build a doghouse out of pallets. Don’t worry if you have some extra wood leftover, you can always build a dog fence for your pets with it. 

If you’ve made this project using shipping pallets, show it to us in the comments.

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Allen runs a popular home website, and understands what it takes to educate audiences through online content. Through his focus at home, Allen developed an insatiable appetite for home improvement projects that he could do for cheap on weekends. Over the years, he has gained valuable experience, which he shares in detail in articles like How to Build A DIY Dining Room Table. His ability to clearly share these DIY ideas is a huge asset, and he is a valuable resource to the home improvement community.